We heard a lot of rhetoric this past session about taxing the rich, and making sure they paid their fair share. Minnesotans swept Democrats into the majority thinking that they would follow through on that promise, and leave the rest of us alone. Boy were those who believed that promise wrong. Even more troubling, is the continued co-option of the argument itself. Do we need to raise revenue to make it fairer? Or do we need to raise revenue because we simply want to spend more and cannot responsibly choose or set priorities?
This week, the non-partisan Minnesota Department of Revenue issued their Tax Incidence Study that examined the impact of the recently passed tax bill. Their findings were interesting, to say the least.
The study found that the tax bill that kicks in July 1st raises the tax burden on Minnesotans at every income level, not just the upper income group as promised. What's worse, contrary to the ever progressive mantra of fairness, the bottom 20% will actually end up paying more as a percentage of their income in new taxes than will the wealthiest 10%.
The majority broke its "balanced approach" promise to the people of Minnesota in order to pay for billions of dollars in new additional spending. With a $627 million dollar deficit, the majority could have chosen to follow through on their progressive fairness promise, and left the rest of Minnesota alone with hundreds of millions leftover to spend on new programs and government spending.
However, they increased taxes and fees by about $2.5 billion dollars, and Minnesota taxpayers, rich, poor, and middle-class alike will pay the price. The budget that was passed was neither fair nor responsible; it raised spending to borderline unsustainable levels, and cut the state's projected 2016-2017 surplus in half.
Raising taxes on the poorest Minnesotans to pay for wasteful spending and taxpayer-funded bailouts for Saint Paul and Minneapolis is hardly the "better Minnesota" we were promised.
Not everyone is born with a silver spoon or as the heir to massive family fortunes. Most of us start our young adult lives with a vision and aspiration to achieve our own individual goals. Massive unsustainable government spending and debt is a threat to each of our individual goals.
Perpetuating unnecessary and uncontrollable increases in government taxes and spending under the untruthful guise of "fairness" is a threat to each of us without the silver spoon, regardless of what income group you may belong to during our journey in life.
In the corners of commerce in the private sector we call it a bait and switch. In the political arena the equivalent bait and switch is to create class warfare and envy. We are all Americans and regardless of where each of us may be on our journey socio-economically, we all have worth and something to contribute to society.
We should return to the values of some decades ago and show the civil respect to each for our individual and respective achievements while encouraging the success of others. The progressive movement is an impediment to just those individual successes.